Here are five things to know about the Falcons on Monday:
1. Shanahan vs. LaFleur matchup set. The NFC championship game will feature two former Atlanta Falcons assistant coaches. Kyle Shanahan and the San Francisco 49ers will host Matt LaFleur and the Green Bay Packers with a trip to Super Bowl LIV on the line at 6:40 p.m. Sunday in Santa Clara, Calif.
Shanahan and LaFleur were with the Falcons in 2015 and 2016. After the Super Bowl LI meltdown, Shanahan left to take the San Francisco head coaching job and LaFleur went to Rams for one season as quarterbacks coach and to the Titans as their offensive coordinator for one season before landing the Green Bay job in a surprise move.
Some thought the Falcons should have keep Lafleur as the quarterback coach or offensive coordinator to keep some continuity in the high-flying offense. (The team is preaching about continuity this offseason.)
Instead, the Falcons hired Steve Sarkisian as offensive coordinator and Bush Hamdan as quarterbacks coach. Sarkisian was fired after two seasons and Hamdan went back to college coaching after one season.
2. Coleman instrumental in 49ers win. 49ers running back Tevin Coleman rushed 22 times for 105 yards and two touchdowns in the 27-10 win over the Vikings on Saturday. Coleman was drafted by the Falcons in 2015, but allowed to leave in free agency after last season as the Falcons had already hitched their wagon to Devonta Freeman.
3. Titans have Falcons connection. Tennessee offensive line coach Keith Carter joined the Titans after three seasons with the Falcons. In 2015 and 2016 he was the assistant offensive line coach before coaching the running backs in 2017.
He coached Wes Schweitzer in college and was a big advocate for him during his time with the Falcons. If Schweitzer doesn’t re-sign with the Falcons in free agency, look for him to land in Tennessee.
4. Coaching staff about set. Tosh Lupoi was hired as the Falcons’ defensive line/run game coordinator (defensive ends) on Saturday.
Lupoi, 38, was the Browns’ defensive line coach last season.
Before joining the Browns, Lupoi spent five seasons on the staff at Alabama under Nick Saban.
After Jeremy Pruitt took the Tennessee Volunteers job after the 2017 season, Lupoi was named the defensive coordinator. After one year on the job, Lupoi left for the Browns. In his last game as defensive coordinator, Clemson hung 44 points on the Crimson Tide. The Clemson collapse was after they gave up 35 points to Kyler Murray and Oklahoma and 28 points to Jake Fromm and Georgia.
Also, tight ends coach Mike Mularkey retired Thursday. Offensive assistant Ben Steele, who was tight end coach with Tampa Bay under Dirk Koetter for two seasons, is a strong candidate for the opening.
5. Historic collapses. Houston had a 24-0 lead before getting boat-raced out of Arrowhead Stadium by Eric Bieniemy’s offense. The Chiefs scored on seven straight possessions on the way to a 51-31 win.
Houston Chronicle columnist Jerome Solomon has called for Bill O’Brien to resign.
It was the fourth largest deficit overcome in NFL postseason history follow by the Bills (32 points) in an AFC wild card game against the Houston Oilers in 1992, the Colts (28 points) in an AFC wild card game in 2013 against the Chiefs, and the Patriots (25 points) in Super Bowl LI against the Falcons.
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